A right-wing politician provoked a furious response after saying women should earn less money than men because they are “weaker", "smaller" and "less intelligent”.
Polish MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke, who has repeatedly courted controversy with his opinions, was speaking to a near-empty European Parliament during a gender pay-gap debate.
The Eurosceptic started by explaining that no women are ranked in the top 800 of a physics olympiad in Poland.
The 74-year-old then said there are no women in the top 100 world chess players.
“Of course women must earn less than men because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent, they must earn less, that’s all,” said Mr Korwin-Mikke.
Spanish socialist MEP Iratxe Garcia Perez can be seen grimacing at Mr Korwin-Mikke’s chess explanation.
She responded: “According to what you're saying and your theory I wouldn't have the right to be here as a member of parliament.
"I know you're very upset and very concerned about the fact we women can represent citizens on an equal footing with you.
“I think I need to defend European women against men like you.”
Mr Korwin-Mikke, the creator of the Coalition for the Renewal of the Republic – Liberty and Hope, who was born into Nazi-occupied Warsaw, has previously referred to black people as n******.
He once told The Observer newspaper that women’s attitudes are influenced by the men they sleep with, because semen “penetrates the tissue”.
Mr Korwin-Mikke has previously been fined for using racist language at a debate.
"European Parliament President Antonio Tajani has started an investigation which may result in sanctions against Polish MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke for sexist remarks made during the plenary session on Wednesday night," said a European Parliament spokesman.
"Penalties range from a reprimand to a fine and temporary suspension."
London Labour MEP Seb Dance, who last month held up a sign accusing Nigel Farage of being a liar, told The Independent: “The tenets of free speech and parliamentary privilege are important, but so too is respect for the right for everyone to be treated equally. He (Mr Korwin-Mikke) undermined the value and worth of his colleagues because of their gender and in so doing demeaned not just them but himself. He has crossed a line and must lose the right to be taken seriously on anything.
“Too often, nationalists and extremists hide behind free speech when spewing out their hatred and bile. They must be held to account and there must be consequences.
“If there’s a rule that’s been broken, he should be punished accordingly. If not, then it’s the chair’s discretion who gets called to speak - there should be an agreement to exclude him”.
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